Thesis Submission Date

2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Reader 1

Gaston Espinosa

Reader 2

Gregory Hess

Rights Information

© 2011 Melissa Irvine

Abstract

From a contemporary international perspective, there are two truly global religious movements of enormous vitality. One is a resurgent Islam, the other Pentecostal Protestantism. What makes the growth of Pentecostal Protestantism so fascinating is the fact that it’s transforming a region where the Catholic Church has for five centuries reigned supreme in its religious monopoly. While the first century of proselytizing in Latin America was relatively minute (constituting only 1 percent of the overall population in 1950), Pentecostalism began to show signs of its potential vitality in the 1960s and 1970s.2 Evangelical conversion became more pervasive in 1980s, and by the early 1990s church membership included over 50 million followers (11 percent of the population).3 Today there are over 90 million Protestants in Latin America, the vast majority of which are Pentecostal and Charismatic.4 What seemed like a seemingly insignificant movement before World War II has grown to include thirteen percent of the entire Latin American population.5 The six-fold growth of evangelicalism from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century has led many scholars like David Stoll to ask, “Is Latin America Turning Protestant?”6

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